THONGA CLASSIC TRAIL
Bring the Gees! 55km of unique trails starts around the Kosi lake system by the Mozambiquan border, down the untouched beaches, up through the indigenous coastal forest before an ocean safari takes you to out to our warm temperate ocean see dolphins, coral reefs at Sodwana Bay. This trail is for those who enjoy trails, adventure, exploring pristine natural areas & exploring. We hike around 15km each day.
We have bent over backwards to try and bring you a cost effective, value added package that includes the transfer from Sodwana Bay to Kosi Bay, all local guides, 4 nights accommodation, all meals prepared locally and overseen by our chef, dive masks & snorkels, 2 nights of turtle walks (in season) and all your booze & drinks included.
DAY 1: SODWANA BAY - KOSI LAKE
DISTANCE: 3km / 6km
We meet at Sodwana Bay around lunch time where you will leave your car safely parked on a private property. From there we transfer you the 100km up the R22 to just short of the Mozambican border to where the trail begins.
The first afternoon you will arrive at our hidden forest gem, a new development for 2023 that were excited to add onto the trail experience. A beautiful, isolated gem surrounded by nature your spacious tented accommodation for 2 sharing, a generous amount of space in a large clearing in the bush overlooking Lake Kuhlange, the largest of the Kosi Lakes. A beautiful rustic camp away from civilisation and a beautiful spot to explore the Kosi forest and the lakes & a perfect place to unwind as you'll feel the stress begin to melt away. The camp is situated on the lake shore and it's a short drive to the beach for the evening turtle walk to look for nesting/hatchling turtles in Summer. Agrippa will meet you to take you on a shortish guided bird walk this first afternoon through the Kosi forest to the Raffia palms, it's about an hours walk each way and 3km round trip to get the legs warmed upo for the coming days.
A three course meal honouring our northern neighbours awaits you and we suggest hitting the beach to look for nesting Loggerhead and Leatheback on this first evening as your legs are still fresh & it gives you the next evening as a back up to go again, should you be unlucky enough to miss them.
DAY 2: KOSI BAY - BHANGA NEK
DISTANCE: 5KM / 10KM / 15KM
We wake nice and early and after a light breakfast of tea, coffee, fruit, yogurt & cereal you take a snacks along with you as you begin the trail heading up the 3rd lake edge, walking through the indigenous forest. The secret trail (even we got lost a few times initially) meanders north along the lake edge for 5km keeping an eye out for Banded Mongoose, Samango Monkeys, Red Duiker and a variety of bird life before heading up the dune to the top of Nkovokeni, the mighty dune which keeps the Indian Ocean apart from Nhlange, also known as 3rd lake.
From here you look down on the Kosi crown jewels, take the views in have a rest before we descend down to the lake edge to explore the fish traps, mangroves, piscivorous birds abound, hippos & flamingos.
The trail heads up to the ridge of eNkovukeni, the mighty dune which keeps the Indian Ocean apart from Nhlange, also known as 3rd lake. The views over the lake system are stunning from up here, we soak up the views here with an appropriate wetting of the palate and lunch under the Mdoni trees before heading down to meet the boat.
A boat will collect you at either 2nd or 1st lake depending on your choice. and how the legs are feeling. You get a chance to explore the lake system, have a swim or a snorkel in the mangroves here abundant with nursery fish life, meet the resident hippos and flamingos before we make our way back south through the picturesque channels back to 3rd lake.
The Kosi estuary fish traps are unique to this area in that the local people have used these passive capture fish traps for hundreds of years, each fish trap/ kraal being handed down within the family for generations. One of our local guides will be present to explain how the hydraulics and lake system works.
A two course meal awaits at camp with and the next evening you can relax around the campfire with a drink and friends, but should you wish, you have the option to do a second turtle walk which we can arrange for you as an extra.
DAY 3: BHANGA NEK - BLACK ROCK
DISTANCE: 15 KM
We start nice and early to beat the heat in the turtle season (the eggs use the same heat from the sun to incubate the eggs under the sand). This is arguably the most pristine stretch of coastline in the whole country, completely undeveloped and untouched.
We move through a series of bays, sculpted out by the prevailing NE winds passing Rabbit Rock, Castle Rock, Dog Point then reaching Black Rock 15km down the beach. Here a delicious informal lunch awaits you and the afternoon is yours to relax or explore the turquoise waters. You can swim, snorkel or go onto the top of Black Rock view point and look for Humpback Whales, Green and Hawksbill turtles feeding off the ledges or maybe catch the Bottlenose dolphins cruising past for a casual surf in the backline. This stretch of coastline has a high abundance of Palm Nut vultures and they are often spotted flying the beaches here.
We will spend some time looking for the Bouton’s Snake eyed Skink, it's a small lizard that has a local South African population endemic only to Black Rock. The small skink occurs further north but this is the southernmost limit of its range and the population is thought to consist of around 58 individuals which feed exclusively in the inter-tidal zone. The Beach Medlar tree/ shrub is another plant which also only occurs at Black Rock in South Africa.
Once you are sufficiently beached out we take you slightly inland by vehicle to our third overnight venue of Hlabasimhlope Monument and Heritage site. This memorable overnight stay is the brain child of Eugene Tembe who is a Community leader and resident of KwaMpukane Community and is part of the Royal Tembe clan.
His warm hospitality will make you feel right at home in this Zulu-cool residence, rooms are twin-shared as are the ablutions with open air showers looking out over the rolling hills. There is a cash bar with wood-fired oven pizzas and shisa-nyama and accompanying sides will fill your belly before a good evenings rest.
DAY 4: BLACK ROCK - MABIBI
DISTANCE: 13 KM
An early start with a light breakfast we begin the walk at Lala Nek through the coastal forest at Manzengwenya aka Island Rock. We follow the coastal twee-spoor track south through dense coastal bush for 6km with plenty of endemic birds, Vervet Monkeys and Red Duiker along the way.
We weave in and out of the forest and onto the beach at Island Rock where gourmet sandwiches await and a last swim in the Ocean before we whisk you away to South Africas largest fresh water Lake, Lake Sibaya. Enjoy unforgettable sundowners on us and rinse the salt off in one of the most underrated and beautiful parts of South Africa.
We return to Sodwana Bay to an exclusive private lodge for a final dinner of elegant surprises freshly prepared, accompanied by wine and champagne.